10. The Traitor Is Judged
Faramir spent the next couple of days in the Houses of Healing, Beregond's words echoing in his mind and still troubling him; for he couldn't understand what his friend's parting words truly meant. Who would not wish to remember him with love?
The answer to his question came when he conversed with Míriel, one of the healers, who was changing at that moment bandages on Faramir's arm.
"You are fortunate, my lord," she commented carelessly. "There are no burn marks left in you."
"Burn marks?" Faramir asked, surprised. "Why would there be any?"
Míriel certainly didn't expect that answer. She quickly averted her eyes and continued with her work. "Remember, my lord, you must not move your arm too much and…"
Faramir gripped her hand and prodded her to look at him. "Why would there be any burn marks?" he asked again slowly.
"My lord, I…" started Míriel, faltering. "It is not my place to…"
"I am making it your place." Faramir felt truly exasperated now. "Ever since I woke up, everyone has been keeping secrets from me. Only one dared to tell me directly that my father is dead, and now I learn that I should have burn marks on me. What am I not told?"
Seeing no other option, Míriel told Faramir everything that she had heard. Wringing her hands nervously, she told him how his father went mad and attempted to kill himself by placing himself and him, his then ailing son, in the midst of a pyre; how he would have succeeded if Gandalf hadn't arrived to stop him at the last moment; and how Denethor finally met his end.
"I'm sorry, my lord," she concluded sadly. "I didn't want to be the one to tell you about your father."
Faramir sighed. "It was the palantír that proved his downfall. In his attempt to find answers and thus protect the city, he only got madness." He truly felt for his father at that moment.
"Your father wasn't the only one maddened that day, my lord," Míriel said then. "Everyone obeyed your father's commands without question even though it could mean your death."
"They were following orders. No one is expected to do otherwise, especially in times of war," Faramir reasoned.
"I understand," Míriel said softly. "Yet what if one disobeys orders to do good?"
Faramir sighed. "Ethically speaking, he would do well. But, military speaking, he would do something that could put his fellow soldiers at risk. Therefore, punishment would be necessary."
Míriel seemed for a moment indecisive and then, after looking around to make sure no one would hear her, she leaned closer. "I didn't mention anything before because I'm not certain how much of it is true. However, rumour has it that perhaps Gandalf would not have been able to save you if it weren't for a soldier who fought back the people who were to set fire on you. They say he placed himself between the door and them, not allowing them to come any closer; and that he was even forced to kill a couple of them when they dared to attack him." Míriel sighed. "And it is said that the mob hated him more for it. They called him a traitor, an abomination of the city, and that he only deserved death for what he did; that it was fortunate his wife wasn't alive to witness her husband's betrayal, or she would have certainly had taken her own life in shame. But, my lord… he was trying to put an end in that madness. Should he be punished for that?"
Faramir wasn't paying much attention any more. As a terrible suspicion formed in his mind, he felt his throat drying and he swallowed hard. "That soldier… Did you manage to catch a name?"
Míriel nodded. "They say his name was Beregond, son of Baranor."
"Thank you. You may go now," Faramir said weakly to Míriel, who left at once, letting him be. Faramir rested his head against the chair, for he felt dizzy at the revelation. Everything finally made sense now: Beregond's strange behaviour; his anxiety about Bergil's safety; his sadness; his fear. And all Faramir could do was shake his head sadly.
My friend… how could you worry so? You disobeyed and you will have to be punished, yes; but to be afraid of being hated? He closed his eyes. He was my father and his death aches my heart; yet he was ready to kill me. I cannot hate you for standing up to him. Did you think I would not be able to understand that? Or your son? Anyone else?
Feeling his heart sinking, he arose and walked to the balcony to see the horizon on the East.
You had better return alive, Beregond; for there are a lot of things that I have to make you understand, he thought, determined.
Yet what kind of hope was there for anyone to return from the Morannon?
In the hopes of ridding those dark thoughts, Faramir went outside to the garden. There it was that he met Éowyn, the fair shieldmaiden of Rohan, and as he looked upon her beauty he felt his spirits lifted. In turn, he saved her from her own despair, and thus it was that they came to love each other.
To the surprise of all, the army returned victorious. For Gandalf's hopes had come true: the Ringbearer succeeded in his quest and Sauron was overthrown at last. The free people of Middle-Earth rejoiced at the happy days that were to follow, for they knew the shadow would never return to threaten them. The people of Gondor, however, had one more reason to celebrate; they had once more a king, who claimed what was rightfully his after he had successfully confronted Sauron. Faramir presented him to the citizens of Minas Tirith and, upon taking up his duties, the man proved kind and just and thus earned the people's approval.
Beregond never witnessed those days though. During that time, he was held at his home, awaiting his judgement. And there he witnessed the strength of his son's heart, for the boy would feel nothing but admiration for his father after what he did; and Faramir's kindness, for he had assured him that, in his heart, Beregond was innocent. That brought a smile on the soldier's face and gave him courage to face the trial.
Yet, when the day of the trial finally arrived and Beregond found himself walking the aisle up to the king's throne, his heart drummed loudly in his ears. It was true that there was no surprise as to what fate awaited him, yet Beregond simply couldn't help it. After all, a man who's not afraid to die is nothing but a fool.
As he walked, he managed to see in the crowd the faces of Maldir, Borlas and Meneldor, along with other soldiers whom he had come to consider friends from their training days, as well as Iorlas. To Beregond's relief, he saw no resentment in their eyes, but support and understanding. Finally he walked up the stairs to bring himself before the king, and stood in attention. There he also caught sight of Faramir, and beside him stood a lady, her hair golden like the bright sun in the sky. Beregond immediately recognised her as the Lady Éowyn, the maiden Faramir offered his heart to.
There it was that he waited for Lord Elessar, whom others knew as Aragorn, to speak; and as he waited, time seemed to have crawled to a standstill.
"Beregond, son of Baranor," started the king, "you have been accused of treachery for leaving your post without the order of the late Steward or the Captain, as well as the murder of three of your own people: the porter at the Closed Door and also two men in the Hallows, a most sacred place. You have spilt the blood of your own people and you know that the penalty for this is death. Kneel to hear your doom, soldier."
Beregond did just that, and now it was with a great effort that he could control the frenzied beating of his heart.
"Know also that, because of your bravery to stand up to the maddened Steward, his son's life was saved. Because of this, it has been decided that your life should be spared. You and your son are commanded to leave Minas Tirith in two weeks time at the latest."
Beregond felt like all his blood was drained from him at that very moment. He swayed a bit, yet he fought hard not to abandon himself to the nausea that seized him. Through the corner of his eye, he noticed Faramir taking a worried step forward. Was it so obvious that he was ready to fall into a swoon then?
Yet it was proved that Lord Elessar was far from finished.
"For indeed this has to be done, if you are to take up your duties as the First Captain of Ithilien. And your first task there will be to make all the proper arrangements for the arrival of Lord Faramir, prince of that fair land. It is there that you will dwell for the remainder of your days, serving the man for whom you risked everything to save - your friend."
Lord Elessar uttered the last words so quietly that only Beregond heard him. The soldier looked up at the king, his eyes opening wider, and suddenly, Beregond realised that he wasn't just looking at the King of Gondor. He was also looking at the mysterious man who healed Faramir, and someone who had last seen as an adolescent: Thorongil.
Grateful and knowing that the city couldn't be placed in better hands, Beregond kissed Elessar's hand in respect. And, as he walked away, his eyes met Faramir's, who smiled at him broadly. The two friends didn't have to hide behind excuses or guises anymore.
Faramir went to see Beregond again the day that he would leave Minas Tirith. The newly appointed Captain of Ithilien was certainly glad to see his lord, for he quickly beckoned him inside and bade him to sit. As Faramir did so, he noticed the bundle of things that were lying by the door.
"Are you ready to set out then?" he asked.
"All ready," replied Beregond, smiling. "Or will be as soon as Bergil comes back. He went to say goodbye to his friends. He will miss them in his new home."
"I understand. But he will like Ithilien, I am sure of it," Faramir assured Beregond.
"I know," the soldier said. "Yet a part of me wishes we could stay here. This place is full of memory."
Faramir's heart warmed as he recalled all the memories he shared with Beregond. "We had quite a life together here, did we not?"
Beregond nodded. "Those memories will be the closest in my heart."
"You should remember that this is not the end though," Faramir reminded him. "We still have a long life ahead of us, and we will have plenty more memories to share."
"Except one," said Beregond with a sigh. "I'm sorry I won't be at your wedding."
The Steward, however, would hear none of it.
"The King's orders are not to be denied. You have to leave."
"I'm aware of that. Still, allow me to give you something for Lady Éowyn."
Faramir watched his companion go into the other room and reappear after a few moments.
"I held on to this, wishing a part of Almiel to be with me still. Now I know she would like you to have it back." With a swift movement, Beregond placed in Faramir's hand a golden ring. Faramir recognised it at once: it was his mother's ring.
"This was a gift," he remarked at a loss.
"Yes, it was; but this gift will shine all the brighter on your wife's hand than locked in a chest. Please, accept it."
"I will," said the Steward, touched by Beregond's thoughtfulness, and clasped his companion's shoulder fondly.
"I have been many things in my life, but the best thing for me was to be your friend."
"And I'll always be your friend."
They embraced, grateful to have each other all these years, and then they parted –only to be reunited again in Ithilien.The End.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.